In Islam

Since January 2014 the Islamic terror group ISIS has ruled the northern Syrian city of Al Raqqa. Sharia [Islamic law] is enforced and the whole community lives in terror of ISIS’s extreme violence.

Everyone must adhere to strict Islamic codes. Women must wear the niqab (a full black covering, with just a slit for eyes) and men and women must not mingle. Separate bakeries have been set up for males and females. “Al- Khansa” and “Um Riyan” brigades comprised of young female Islamists have been established to search women. Horrifically, young girls are being forcibly wed to ISIS fighters in marriages which are mostly temporary and routinely violent. One young girl recently suicided just to escape the perpetual sexual violence.

In late February ISIS took 20 Christian leaders captive and gave them three options: convert to Islam, submit to Islam as dhimmis, or “face the sword”. Faced with this choice, the Christian leaders signed an agreement committing the Christian community to dhimmitude, a state of humiliation and subjugation under Islam. According to the agreement, while the Christians of Al Raqqa may remain Christian, they must always demonstrate respect for Islam and Muslims. Furthermore, they must abstain from all public expressions of Christianity and from renovating their churches and monasteries. The Christians must also pay the “jizya” (protection money) as mandated by the Qur’an (Sura 9:29). … While they abide by the agreement, the Christians will be permitted to live as “protected” dhimmis—that is, as subjugated, second-class citizens. However, the agreement reads, “… if they disobey any of the conditions, they are no longer protected and ISIS can treat them in a hostile and warlike fashion.” ISIS militants have ripped crosses and bells from churches and replaced them with black flags of Islam.

Please pray for Syria and its Christians.

Elizabeth Kendal is the author of ‘Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today’ (Deror Books, Dec. 2012) . She is Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at the Melbourne School of Theology.

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